NYC’s favourite woman-about-town Catherine Cohen finally unveils her long-awaited Netflix special, The Twist? …She’s Gorgeous.
“I feel completely insane, but I look literally stunning,” are the words that, if you had no idea who she was, would immediately want you to befriend Catherine Cohen. With her frank comedic timing and ability to weave in themes like sex, depression, and desire with a dash of your typical childhood trauma, Cohen has done so much more than just get on stage and tell jokes: she’s created a community of people that feel seen and understood in her work. Honesty is at the core of everything that Cohen does; it’s not so much about making the joke first as a way to make it before someone else does, but making it first to allow for others to feel more comfortable about feeling or thinking the exact same way.
Now, after performing the show on various stages over the last 6 years, it’s finally time for Cohen’s true rite of passage as a comedian: having a Netflix comedy special. The Twist …She’s Gorgeous serves as a culmination of half a decade of Cohen’s comedy & writing work that was crafted, honed, and performed across cities like New York and Edinburgh. The cabaret-style special is as subtle as Cohen’s rhinestone jumpsuit, poking fun at everything from Disney adults, to how ridiculous women’s clothing sizes are, to asking marathon runners what they are really running from. Now, as a newly minted 30.5-year-old (she just celebrated her half birthday and cannot believe you didn’t wish her a happy one), Cohen is embracing this new chapter of her life… Which she will eventually use as comedy fodder.
On the day following the release of The Twist? … She’s Gorgeous, Catherine Cohen chats with 1883 Magazine’s Kelsey Barnes about leaning into her 30s & what new material to expect, finding a community through comedy, how to be the main character, and more.
I feel like I need to start this interview with an apology: I’m so sorry you have to speak to me the day after you partied until 5 am as a way to celebrate the release of The Twist?… She’s Gorgeous.
I’ll be honest: I’m going to be absolutely loopy, I’m so hungover. Now that I’m 30, if I have four martinis—which I definitely had—it’s over for me.
How was being able to celebrate this thing that has been such a long time coming for you with all of your loved ones?
I kept saying it was my wedding. Everyone that I loved was there, my outfit was incredible.
It was very chill, definitely not over the top at all.
Right! It was designed by Kelsey Randall who designed the romper for the special, I love it so much. The party flew by, it felt like it was five minutes. I could only talk to each person for a few minutes at a time and all I wanted was two hours with each.
Speaking of the aforementioned martinis, I saw there was a special martini menu made for you.
There was! I named one of them after my mentor, Marla [Kirban], who passed away last fall. She introduced me to the Dirty Martini, so in her honour, we had many of them. I just want to add that there was this glamorous old woman who crashed the party and no one knew who she was. She came up and hugged me, said that she couldn’t wait to watch but I could tell she had no idea who I was.
I’m convinced that it was someone Marla sent. I don’t even know how she crashed it because it’s inside of a hotel; you have to first wander into the hotel and then get into this room. I’m convinced it was a sign from above. I wish I could have talked to her. I kept asking everyone who she was and no one knew! I’m pretty sure she doesn’t exist, she must be a figment of my imagination.
Congrats on the special, I watched it last week and it is amazing. It’s literally half a decade in the making.
Thank you so much. I guess it does feel like a long time coming. I’ve been doing versions of the show for five or six years. I actually woke up this morning and just sobbed uncontrollably, but I couldn’t figure out why I was crying. It was just this release of emotions, like Oh my god, I’ve been working on this thing for so long and now it’s out there. I’m very happy that it’s out, but it’s sort of sad to move on as well. It’s like a new chapter.
Yeah, I was gonna ask if it felt like a new chapter was beginning.
Definitely. I’m so, so ready for it. I’m really sick of doing those jokes, some are so old. But seeing this special is like saying goodbye to my baby, there she goes, she’s all grown up. Now onto the next.
And now you get to talk about your 30s which, as someone who is turning 30, I’m excited to hear your take on everything.
It’s been a good year so far. I can’t complain. I’ll be 31 this summer, it was just my half birthday. Can you believe no one said anything?
I’ve noticed that you’ve been saying 30.5 on all of your captions.
It’s so stupid but I had to. The new hour will be a lot more about being in a relationship and that stuff. Do I want to freeze my eggs? Why do I have this existential dread? Whereas last show felt very centred around dating and getting my shit together. like, you know about dating around or like, trying to get my shit together.
You were just in London for 6 sold-out shows for Work in Progress and it was somewhat of a re-do — you basically had to cut your run of shows short in March 2020 and rush home because of the pandemic. What was it like finally stepping on that stage again?
I did one show. I had this run planned in March 2020 and I did one show and then went back to my hotel room and got a call from my mom and my agent both said, you need to get on a plane and leave. Those shows were rescheduled at a place called Clapham Grand and it’s the biggest room I’ve ever played. There was this energy… Like we’ve all been waiting for two years to do this thing. It was amazing.
There are so many things I could quote from the special — every lyric from That Time of Year, Disney adults desperately needing help, crying because outside smells like the past. There are so many.
One of my absolute best friends in the world is a Disney adult and whenever she comes to the show, whenever I say that line I give her a little nod. She was holding this chic Mickey Mouse purse when she saw the show for the first time and I thought it was hilarious.
The bit where you talk about being at the high school dance and taking a hat from a boy as a way of flirting, I felt slightly attacked. I can’t believe that every experience I’ve ever had is not unique at all.
People are the same, we’re all copies. Whenever I’m scrolling TikTok, I just think, We’re all exactly the same way and it is beautiful. All the jokes about women watching true crime while their boyfriends are on their phones or whatever, that’s my entire life. Even today, I was complaining about my hangover and I opened up TikTok and it’s this guy saying to his girlfriend that all she had to do was eat and drink something and she won’t have a headache, it’s not that big a deal. That is exactly what my boyfriend was telling me. Everyone’s the same, it’s beautiful, and it makes me feel less alone.
I was speaking with another female comic recently about oversharing on-stage, she said she knows she will never be able to write the best joke but she will always be able to be relatable to her audiences because she overshares. At the core of everything you do is being honest — whether it’s about seeing your orgasm face, your insecurities, and anything & everything else. Has it always been therapeutic for you to somewhat bare it all on-stage?
I definitely relate to that comic. At this point, it helps me; it’s a great way to work through things and cope. In contrast, though, is that I think some things take longer to become jokes. Some things take longer to become funny, someone said, “you need to wait for the shame to wear off and then you’ll be good.” I agree with it. Certain things can become a joke that same night and other things take months and years before they’re funny.
When you’re speaking with people about stories you’ve discussed in The Twist? She’s Gorgeous, does it feel like you’re building a little community?
Yeah, I feel so lucky. Last night at the party there was this guy Ben, who started the Seek Treatment fan account for my podcast. It’s called Troot Sloots and he and his cousins use the account and they are so fucking funny. The community that has rallied around that Instagram account is so incredible, they are the best.
I don’t look at comments and stuff, but I accidentally scrolled on the comments on the trailer and, of course, there’s some guy saying, “I didn’t know makeup could make someone uglier.” Then, right above it, I see the Troot Sloots commenting “Best comedian ever.” All I could think of was thank God for them. There is a real sense of community and connection and that is the case with that fan account. There will always be some people that say things so wild and you can’t even imagine where they get the idea to be that way, but I always just want to send them love and light. I hope everyone’s okay out there.
I read something you said recently about kindness, I’m paraphrasing but it was something along the lines of “I’m a frigid bitch but I’m still kind to people.”
It’s true. I love talking shit and gossiping and being a monster, but I also always want people to feel good about themselves.
In your most recent newsletter, you wrote “how lovely to be 30 and a half years old and in love with so much against all odds,” is such a hopeful statement. I know you also have an incredible advice column. Are you someone that really aims to help people through writing and your comedic work?
No, it’s a completely selfish act. I’m just trying to help myself and then if anyone else benefits as an added bonus, that’s great. That line in the newsletter is all about having some days that remind you that you’re happy and alive. They are rare, so you have to cherish them when you have them. I haven’t been outside because of the hangover, but I’m going to go out for a walk and listen to a good song because today is a good day to cherish.
I love your advice column, so if it’s not putting you on the spot too much, I asked some friends what they would ask you if you could give them advice and they all said: ask her how she got this incredible main character energy.
Well, my secret is that I have parents who are obsessed with me and gave me hyper confidence in a world that wants to tear you down. Beyond that, you know those times when you see a fabulous piece of clothing and you feel embarrassed putting it on? You need to just put it on. At first, you might think people are looking, you just have to wear it three times and it will become a part of you. Then you put on a song and stomp on the street. You know in the special when I talk about looking at a woman holding a baguette and you think, life is so romantic. It’s like that.
Beautiful. We all appreciate your wisdom! It would be remiss of me not to bring up your incredible piece for GQ where you talk about picking between good mental health or sexual fulfillment. I read that you’re working on it being made into a feature film. I know it went viral and I know you’ve been very ‘on’ in regards to your public-facing work, but how has it been to be able to expand that story, quietly, in the background?
As they say on Love Island, it’s early days for it. I want to adapt it into a feature because I think it’s something a lot of people struggle with. Why can’t there be a rom-com about that? I’ve gotten better at working on things that are more long-term and not just going for the immediacy of posting something on social media just to get likes. It starts to feel hollow and not as rewarding. I think, with whatever’s next, it’ll be nice to really dig into it. It’s always nice when you can rely on yourself to work on something, it’s why I love writing poems and the newsletter. I don’t need anyone or have to wait on anyone. It’s nice that I can do them in-between projects and feel excited about something.
Lastly, if you could manifest something for yourself this year, what would it be?
Oh my god, that’s such a beautiful question. I just want my Netflix special to be the thing everyone’s obsessed with and addicted to. I want to have Top 10 Netflix vibes. If I can manifest that, that’d be great. It feels good to get where you want to be. This feels very momentous and I’m trying to step back. I’m very grateful and that’s why I keep crying. Oh god, I’m going to start crying in this interview!
This is just one of those moments where you can step back and think about how good you feel. Those moments are rare. I think anyone can relate to wanting to feel good and accomplish something whether it is something you’ve been working on for 6 years or something smaller, like cleaning your apartment. For instance, at some point, I should clean up my suitcase from London that I just dumped out in a corner and my pants are about to stand up on their own and walk out. That aside, life is good and I need to stop crying.
The Twist? …She’s Gorgeous is streaming now on Netflix. Follow Catherine Cohen at @catccohen.
Interview by Kelsey Barnes
Photography by Zack DeZon